Antwerp: CLOSED


Usually, my research before a trip serves me well. I look through guidebooks and then surf the net, writing down addresses of places I want to go and looking at maps to see how far each place is in relation to the other since I usually just walk. It has served me well in the past. Not so in Antwerp.

I had one day to myself on this trip to Belgium, so I decided to take a train to Antwerp and explore. I knew it was considered the World’s Diamond capital, and wandering through the Diamond Museum on a cold winter day sounded like a good choice. But when I got there, the museum was closed for renovation. I wandered down the streets of diamond retailer after diamond retailer, hoping I would at least see members of the Jewish population that I’d read about in my guidebooks, too. It was written that many of them walked around with briefcases handcuffed to their wrists. I hoped I’d at least see that. I didn’t.

So I kept walking.

I’d jotted down the address for the Freitkot Museum – a tiny museum devoted to the history of Belgian fries. I thought I might learn once and for all whether the French were erroneously credited with creating this delectable treat. But when I got there, I pointed up the stairs to the museum and the shopkeeper shook his head no. “Closed.”


I kept walking.

The Apothecary Museum was on my list, too. I wasn’t sure I was all that interested in seeing it, but I would at least be able to get in from the cold and see something. Except, of course, it was closed.

I didn’t have to walk too much farther to reach the square and the Cathedral of Our Lady, which housed several Rubens masterpieces. This will come as a shock: it was open! So I walked in and first lit a candle for my step-father. It was the fourth anniversary of his death. I’ve been lighting a candle for him whenever I visit a cathedral, but this time, emotion overwhelmed me and I burst into tears. It took a while for me to collect myself and by then I was too embarrassed to turn around and buy my ticket to continue on to see the paintings. I left instead and kept on walking.

There was no place left to go but the harbor. I walked down and looked at the only ship there and then saw the Steen Castle. I recognized it from my guidebooks. So I wandered over and thought, “At last! I’m going to do something in Antwerp!” But it was closed. Apparently has been for years. I circled around it, and headed back to the train station.


In the end, the only thing I found to do in Antwerp was walk.

Have you been to Antwerp? What did I miss?


23 responses to “Antwerp: CLOSED

    • It was very pretty; another medieval city. I will admit that it’s easy to navigate through the streets of Antwerp more than other cities, like Ghent. But I prefer Ghent and Brussels. Still, I had to check out Antwerp and see what was there.

    • Thanks. Don’t feel bad about the chuckle. Finally – one thing I could have seen, but tears got in the way. My step-father would have been shaking his head and rolling his eyes. I can practically hear him sighing now.

  1. I hope you at least enjoyed your walk. I had a similar experience one time in The Netherlands. I had saved some store/museum visits for my last Monday–everything closed!

  2. This post reminded me so much about our recent trip to Kobe. We checked the official websites of the attractions we wanted to see and it said they were open. But after making the effort to get there, they were all closed! On the flip side, there was one that we came across that said it was closed but had put a handwritten sign in their window saying they were open! Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t know until we actually go. Hope you enjoyed the walk in any case!

    • Our trips do sound similar. It’s kind of surprising these days to have inncaurate information when information is so readily available on the internet, isn’t it? But I did have a nice walk and enjoyed just having a day to myself in Belgium before I had to leave.

  3. Sometimes I’ve found hidden gems when just walking around a new city or sometimes I just feel like walking and not really being a tourist. And then other times, like you, everything I have wanted to do has been closed! But it brought you to the cathedral where you had a beautiful moment lighting a candle for your father-in-law so sometimes these moments just have to happen if that makes any sense.

    • It makes perfect sense. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see the sights I’d planned to in Antwerp, but don’t consider the day a loss. I do love walking around. But it would have been nice to get in out of the cold and learn more about the culture there.

      • I hadn’t thought of the cold! That certainly must have added to the frustration.

        You’ll just have to return there in order to see all the sights you missed out on πŸ™‚

  4. Guess it just wasn’t meant to be, eh? I would’ve been totally depressed if I walked to the museum of fries only to find it closed. At least you got some good exercise out of this excursion. πŸ™‚

  5. Aw! That’s too bad. I guess it just means you’ll have to go back to Antwerp and give it another shot! Was it a Holiday when you were there? Did you have the Belgian fries? I had the Netherlands’ version of them and they were pretty awesome!

  6. Aw! That’s too bad. I guess it just means you’ll have to go back to Antwerp and give it another shot! Was it a Holiday when you were there? Did you have the Belgian fries? I had the Netherlands’ version of them and they were pretty awesome!

  7. Heey Juliann just stumbled on your post. To bad you left with this “closed” feeling. I’m living in Antwerp four year now (Netherlands) and I realy understand your position. You made a walk every “tourist” is walking. Basically you see the main attractions but I guess its safe to say you didnt see the part Antwerp is famous for. (I understand this is a common problem for people visiting a city). For your understanding I live/work “next” to the cathedral and I think its the most boring part of Antwerp. Next time don’t be caught in the tourist traps and try to find some inside info πŸ˜‰

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